How we failed to plant a successful church

Bec Cranford-Smith works at the Gateway Center in Atlanta. She is the site supervisor of  contextual education in partnership with Gateway Center and  Candler School of Theology. She is the pastor of Church of the Misfits.

 How We failed at Successful Church Planting  I sat with middle aged white men in a room decorated by someone infatuated with browns and oranges. The paintings seemed vaguely reminiscent of French vineyards and Italian streets, yet I was closer to crop dust, cotton and Crepe Myrtles in Macon, Georgia. The inquiry began after a couple of jokes and a word of prayer. I crafted my vision of the Church of The Misfits, sharing with conviction about contextualizing Christ to … [Read more...]

No Guru, No Method, No Teacher


Returning to the place where my very first poem formed in my Spirit. I gaze at the trees' reflection and the words return: Look up stretching, never touching, the spindly treetops reach for the clouds Glance down In the rippling water, the treetops dive below the surface brushing the clouds and in the movement of the river, the branches sway slightly Look up tranquil, majestic, at peace in their stillness Penned over 7 years ago, the message of the cross has slowly revealed itself. The … [Read more...]



50 years ago is a very short time.Fifty years ago there loomed a war over the mind's of Americans. In the south, preachers screamed vehemently and twisted the word of God to suggest that slavery and racism were God's truth.  Men and women found themselves beaten, raped, and tolerating all manners of abuse. Children walked down the street, and were gunned down just for being black.50 years ago is a very short time.Fifty years later, I think there is a war and an attack on the minds of … [Read more...]

An Emergent Episcopalian Shares Some Thoughts about the Church


Many of us in the emergent conversation have left institutional Christianity. We do not trust institutions and are suspicious of hierarchies. Our personal histories and experiences of Christianity are filled with the frustration caused by the disconnect between the truth claims of our religious Christian institutions and their actual lived existence. We have seen how much energy and money is spent in the maintenance of our institutions, instead of the mission of Jesus. Some of us have been … [Read more...]

What do Pee Wee Herman and Non-Attachment have in common?


Two days ago I purchased my monthly copy of Mantra Yoga+Health magazine. I was anticipating my "highlight" as I had submitted an answer to the question 'What's the craziest thing you've ever done forL O V E?'. I had answered in an honest way that is uniquely me; expressing my voice and hoping to marry my emergent Christian faith with my yogic sensibilities.No sign of my Joe Longo pic I submitted, no talk of foot washing humility....hmmmm?The mind begins its judging. First, aimed … [Read more...]

Grandpas, Bapticostals, and the need to evangelize every damn body

I was worried about Nanny and Paw because they didn’t attend church. As a 7 year old, I thought there were three kinds of people.1. Folks who were saved,2. Folks who went to weird churches (at 7 that meant anything other than Baptist, Methodist, Church of God or Assembly of God) and probably were n’t saved,3.  and folks who did n’t go to church and must not be saved. That’s what the preacher said.We did n’t have children’s church on Sunday mornings. We’d go from Sunday school to t … [Read more...]

Perfect Love casts out all Fear. Even Media induced Fear.

Bec walks with others in the ATL pride march

Growing up in the Epicenter of all known culture in Georgia,West Georgia,Douglasville to be exact- I learned a lot about the world. I learned a lot about taxidermy, camouflage, and the King James Version of the Bible. My mama told me that Jesus loved the little children, red and yellow black and white. We sang the song in my small Sunday school classroom. Although, racial slurs came from every direction outside of the church. It seemed that the baptiscostal hills of the Piedmont had not … [Read more...]

Give Me a Racist Over A Racist System Anyday by Randy Woodley

"Now brother Woodley, Rev. _______ will share his apology with you and then you can apologize to him." These are last words I needed to hear to understand the jist of  "platform reconciliation" about twelve years ago. "Why in hell would I want to apologize?," I asked myself. I then left the event and vowed never to enable this type of trite confession offering cheap reconciliation again. Over the years the movement has become more sophisticated but the core is still sick, missing key components … [Read more...]

Poetry: American Sons by Randy Woodley

Today, I'm posting about the American enterprise of war but really more about how precious is each person's life and the cost of war to our humanity. "American Sons" is the poem. I apologize to all women because our daughters are now being sent to the front lines but when I wrote this poem, it was not the case. I beg your indulgence.American Sons by Randy Woodley © 2000 At what cost O God has this country been born? That of a fifteen year old Cherokee boy, Bird Clan-His Father’s only so … [Read more...]

Poetry : Randy Woodley, The Haunting (A Tribute to Richard Twiss)

Richard, Randy, Terry, Jeanine, Asbury

Over the next several months I will be posting some of my poetry every Wednesday. Why? I feel like too many words are going out all around us with too little credence given them. It is difficult to hear through too many words, which often excuses us from doing. Sometimes a song or a poem can change the way we hear things or even change a life. For now, I'll keep my songs hidden and just share poetry. My poetry covers a wide variety of topics, all I feel are relevant to Emergence and the churches … [Read more...]